When athletes say nasty things

“Don’t let other people get you down. If you’re improving there are going to be people that won’t like it. There are going to be people that, even thought they love you, are not going to say the nicest things. Don’t take that the wrong way, because sports are competitive. The only person I’m really competitive with is myself, but some people strive to compete with others. If you strive to compete with yourself, don’t let other people influence what you’re doing. It only tears you down. I’m very hard on myself, which is how I improve, but when you have other people on top of that it can tear you down. If you know in your mind that it’s right, don’t let other people influence you. Just keep going with what you know to be right, and keep striving to better yourself.” ~ From my interview with junior student-athlete, Brenna Donovan

Indeed, other athletes will get defensive if you choose to improve. They get defensive because they’re comfortable with where they are. Seeing you improve issues an uncomfortable statement: “Keep up.”

Some athletes embrace “keep up.” Others hide from it. The ones that hide from it will say nasty things to you if they perceive you to be impinging on their territory. In the long run you may even lose that person as a friend. That’s okay, because you want to surround yourself with the people who embrace “keep up.”

Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor of the 2nd century, has helpful advice in his book, Meditations:

“When your sparring partner scratches or head-butts you, you don’t then make a show of it, or protest, or view him with suspicion or as plotting against you. And yet you keep an eye on him, not as an enemy or with suspicion, but with a healthy avoidance. . . . You should act this way with all things in life. We should give a pass to many things with our fellow trainees. For, as I’ve said, it’s possible to avoid without suspicion or hate.”

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